Nursing is one of the most trusting, and open fields, but it is difficult for healthcare workers to discuss sexuality. Patients reveal everything to the nurse; most often they confide in them before the physician. Some patients see the nurse as an unbiased companion and use them as buffers. Yet it’s the nurses that are fearful of bringing up any subject on sexuality. Some parts of nursing discourage sex, period. In our society, sex/sexual desires should be kept secret. Therefore, the issues surrounding the body in this field aren’t acknowledged. Something that’s perfectly natural isn’t allowed to be discussed among family so of course, it would be difficult with strangers. While having these cultural influences, nurses are still expected to discuss the total person. This is a challenge I face going into the Nursing field. Although I know the importance of sexuality in nursing, the subject itself can be sensitive. To be a great nurse, I need to be able to do my job thoroughly. How can I achieve this without offending my patients? How will I know if I have crossed that invisible line? Should I take into consideration the gender of the patient? These are only a few questions I have on the subject, but there are many more which I and other nurses must face. I often wonder about techniques that will assist in approaching the subject. First, we must acknowledge that this is an issue, then we can implement solutions. This can be achieved through proper education and awareness.
Sexuality in nursing is important because it’s a holistic career. It not only addresses the biological aspect but psychological and social as well. It’s difficult to teach clinical practices without understanding the emotions settings. Because nursing is a field that often violates social norms, this can be an obstacle. There are many sexual issues in which the mental status should be considered. Caring for patients can leave them subject to exposure in ways which normally only occur in private situations. Nurses are often required to touch patients’ bodies in areas which are usually only touched during intimate times. They must maintain the patient’s dignity as well as their own professionality. This is done by using medical language which helps minimize personal and sexual meaning (Heath, 2002). Nursing has also been portrayed sexually in both literature and media. They are fantasies and porn objects. We all have seen “Sexy Nurse” the very popular Halloween costume. This is another reason body studies are difficult in this field. The sexual portrayal of nurses makes it nearly impossible to know when you’re approaching the blurred line of professional and fantasy. This issue is addressed using the buddy system, allowing the patient to wash their own genitalia, or managed a situation of natural body response such as erection by pretending it wasn’t there. Knowing this could be just as uncomfortable for the patient as the nurse is something that should be taken into consideration. There is also the evident gender stereotype that nurses must face. This can make the conversation more difficult with some patients. If a male nurse talks openly with a male patient concerning his sexual activity, he could be perceived as gay. Therefore, making the patient uncomfortable.This bias is also seen with female nurses and older male patients. I often have issues bathing male patients because I’m a female; they are either inappropriate or embarrassed. However, when there is a male involved this isn’t an issue. This shows how sexuality affects both the nurse a patient, causing both to try and avoid the subject.
There are many preventive/post cares that shows sexuality being critical in healthcare. Things such as breast and testicular self-examination can increase the chances of early cancer detection. The discussion of sexual concerns related to surgeries such as mastectomies, hysterectomies, colostomies for the patient and partner. Providing information about birth control and sexual behavior to adolescence to reduce cases of teenage pregnancy. Providing teaching on safe sexual practices to prevent the transmission or acquisition of HIV/AIDS and other STD/STI. Psychiatric, disabled, and individuals with cancer that require nursing interventions in sexuality. Nurses who work with clients who are apparently healthy should be able to discuss sexual concerns such as erectile dysfunction and vagina dryness (Waterhouse, 1996). Nurses find this difficult due to their knowledge of the subject, their own attitudes towards the subject, and the social stigma surrounding the subject. These ideas are influenced by factors such as age and religion. The acceptance of these factors can be affected by personal life events and values. Therefore, it’s important for the health care professional to be aware of personal biases, so they can separate them from professional judgments. (Lewis, 1994).
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Monique is a junior at Old Dominion University. She is majoring in Nursing with a minor in Women’s Studies. After receiving her B.S., she plans to get her M.S in Nurse-Midwifery and open a birthing center. She believes in taking an “all-natural” approach in life, hoping to find ways to apply it in the healthcare field. She is a confident BBW who believes in body and sex positivity. She possesses positive traits such as compassion, kindness, and empathy which will continue to push her through life.